Todd Bozeman's home debut as Morgan State's basketball coach was uneventful and unsuccessful yesterday.
The opposition was from a glamour conference, Seton Hall of the Big East, but the students were away for Thanksgiving vacation, the cheerleaders and band were absent and the crowd was almost half composed of people cheering for the visitors.
Morgan (0-4) remained winless by falling behind quickly, shooting miserably in the first half and eventually falling to the Pirates, 83-63.
"We're trying to establish an identity, but right now it isn't happening," Bozeman said. "We have to change the culture and build brick by brick, game by game."
Seton Hall (2-1) was coming off an unbecoming home loss to neighboring Fairleigh Dickinson of the Northeast Conference and is picked to finish 15th in the sprawling, 16-team Big East.
But with freshman guard Eugene Harvey heading a parade of five double-figure scorers with 20 points, the Pirates established their superiority early, jumping ahead 9-0 and never relinquishing their grip. Morgan pitched in by shooting 17.9 percent in the first half and never narrowed its deficit to fewer than 18.
It was another victory on a trip to Maryland for the Pirates' first-year coach, Bobby Gonzalez, whose Manhattan team shocked Maryland in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament last March.
"Todd is just like me, trying to build it up," said Gonzalez, who said the "moon was in the right place" when the Jaspers upset the Terps. "We don't know what we've got right now, so it's important for us to play good, sound basketball. We're very small, so we have to scrap and claw and be quick. If we can shoot the ball well and make some threes, we've got a chance."
The Bears closed within 60-41 with nine minutes remaining before Seton Hall responded with a 15-5 spurt to finish the task. An inspired effort by senior Ronald Timus (game-high 22 points) was not enough for Morgan, which had previously lost at East Carolina, American and Virginia.
Timus sat out last season but returned after getting his degree because "once I heard Todd Bozeman got the job, I thought it would be good. He's a Washington guy and so am I."
The poor start represented a "step backward" to Bozeman after the Bears played well in the second half in Charlottesville. "We started to play as a team down there and pretty much were even with them for 35 minutes. I'm disappointed but not depressed. We're going to keep trying to come to grips with it."
The visit was the first to Morgan for the Pirates, who received 14 points from their big man, Grant Billmeier, 13 points and 12 rebounds from forward Brian Laing and guard Paul Gause and 10 points from Stan Gaines.
"Coach told us to come out strong the first five minutes," Timus said. "We lost the first five minutes and dug a big hole. Sometimes, it's hard to come out of those."
SETON HALL-Laing 6-10 1-2 13, Gaines 3-4 4-4 10, Nutter 1-7 0-0 3, Harvey 7-8 6-9 20, Billmeier 7-8 0-2 14, Pratt 0-3 0-0 0, Marshall 1-3 5-6 8, Messy 1-2 0-0 2, Gause 4-8 4-7 13, Davis 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 30-55 20-30 83. MORGAN STATE-Timus 7-13 7-8 22, Coly 1-5 4-4 6, Green 0-1 3-4 3, Holmes 4-9 2-3 12, Barnes 0-2 1-2 1, Branch 1-1 0-0 2, McLean 0-3 0-0 0, Aujla 0-3 0-0 0, Berkley 4-4 0-0 8, Smith 4-14 0-0 9, Hightower 0-0 0-0 0, Hemsley 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-55 17-21 63.
Halftime-Seton Hall 41-20. 3-point goals-Seton Hall 3-14 (Marshall 1-2, Gause 1-3, Nutter 1-5, Laing 0-1, Davis 0-1, Pratt 0-2), Morgan 4-12 (Holmes 2-4, Timus 1-1, Smith 1-3, McLean 0-2, Aujla 0-2). Rebounds-Seton Hall 36 (Laing 12), Morgan 32 (Berkley, Timus 6). Assists-Seton Hall 13 (Harvey 6), Morgan 5 (Branch 2). Total fouls-Seton Hall 20, Morgan 25. A-N/A.